Cliff Josephy Wins $299,486 and Second Gold Bracelet

Lightning can strike twice in the same place.

It happened at the Rio in Las Vegas tonight in the latest World Series of Poker event.  

Eight years after Cliff Josephy won his first-ever gold bracelet playing Seven-Card Stud, he won a second title in the $3,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em Shootout.  Most remarkable of all was the location of Josephy's victory – literally the exact same spot where he won a WSOP title the first year the series was moved from old Binion's Horseshoe to the Rio.

Josephy was nostalgic about this victory, especially given the long wait between wins.

“I didn't think I'd have to wait this long.  I had a couple of close calls right after (the previous win),” Josephy said.  “I was really on top of the world back in 2005 and 2006.  I thought I'd get more.  But, you know – they're tough to get. “

This time, Josephy's victory took place in a Shootout format.  The Shootout means players advance to the next round by winning a succession of tables which play out similar to single-table satellites.  

Josephy had to pass three tests over three consecutive days.  Yet even he would agree getting past the first day almost took a miracle.  At one point during the first stage of play, Josephy flopped top pair with top kicker and lost to a set.  That left him with a paltry 250 in chips, barely enough to post and ante and a big blind.  Josephy was down to a single chip and a single hand.  Remarkably, he won that three-way pot and the succeeded to go on a serious rush that allowed him to not only slip into the money, but advance to the next day's action.

Day 2 proved to be even tougher.  Later, Josephy called it one of the toughest tables he's ever played at, given five name pros were involved.  However, the rush from the previous day carried over which put Josephy at his first WSOP final table in four years, when he finished third in a Pot Limit Omaha event.

The final table included four gold bracelet winners -- including Josephy, David "Bakes" Baker, Max Steinberg, and Ryan Hughes.  Josephy's stack took an early hit, yet he managed to survive on a smaller stack for a while before completely taking over play when action became seven-handed.  He took a 3 to 1 chip lead when play was five-handed and from that point forward was never in serious danger of elimination.

The latest champion is a 47-year-old professional poker player from Syosset, NY.  He previously worked as a stockbroker in New York City.  Josephy is just as well known by his online screen name, which is “JohnnyBax.”  Yet, changes to the online poker landscape in recent years have forced Josephy to re-evaluate his status as a poker pro, which has included a more selective approach to poker tournaments.

For instance, Josephy plans to depart Las Vegas the day following his victory to be with his wife and three children.  He hopes to return in early July for a few more tournaments, including the Main Event Championship.  
 
First place paid $299,486.  This was also gold bracelet number two. 

MEET GOLD BRACELET WINNER – CLIFF JOSEPHY

Name:  Cliff Josephy
 
Current Residence:  Syosset, NY (USA)
 
Age:  47
 
Marital Status:  Married
 
Children:  3
 
Profession:  Professional Poker Player
 
WSOP Cashes (including this event):  12
 
First WSOP Cash (year):  2005
 
WSOP Final Table Appearances:  4
 
WSOP Wins (with this victory):  2

INTERVIEW WITH THE CHAMPION

WSOP:  How does it feel to win your second WSOP gold bracelet?
 
Josephy:  This is my biggest achievement as a poker player – right here.  I always wanted a No-Limit Hold'em gold bracelet.  Its my best game.  Some people told me the game passed me by that the young kids are all better.  But obviously, they are not all better  We have a few chips up our sleeve.

WSOP:  Are you surprised that it took eight years to achieve a second gold bracelet victory?
 
Josephy:  It's not like I've been out here the entire summer every summer, but I didn't think I'd have to wait this long.  I had a couple of close calls right after that....I was really on top of the world back in 2005 and 2006.  I thought I'd get more.  But, you know – they're tough to get.  You not only have to play well, but run well, especially up here (at the final table).  Especially now, it's much harder these days.

WSOP:  Talk about the first day's action.
 
Josephy:  Day 1 was incredible.  My cards were non-existent.  During the first seven hours, my best pocket pair was nines.  Later, I got a pair of jacks where I won a very small pot.  I basically had no chance on day one.  I managed to get lucky once with ace-queen against ace-king.  That doubled me up.  Maybe because I was getting frustrated, I got it in with ace-queen because it was the best hand I had seen.  After that, I got crippled down to 250 in chips, which was barely enough for the big blind.  I didn't let that bother me.  My 7-3 offsuit wasn't a problem against ace-king and ace-queen (laughing).  I doubled up a couple of more times....I kept amassing chips and then ended up winning it.

WSOP:  What happened on Day 2?
 
Josephy:  Yesterday was the toughest Shootout table I've ever been at by far.  I've been at a couple of tough ones, but Dan O'Brien, Kyle Julius, Brock Parker, Bryan Piccioli, and Randy Dorfman.  I ran pretty well and got a lot of starting hands.  That made it pretty easy for me.

WSOP:  What about the final table on day three?
 
Josephy:  I was the shorter stack for a while, but things picked up from there.  I flopped an open-ended straight against David Baker and made a straight.  That doubled me up and then it was off to the races.  Everything fell into place from there...I was flopping or turning or rivering what I needed, but I was playing pretty well too, I think.

WSOP:  How does this win compare with your previous victory?
 
Josephy:  It's totally different.  That first win was really strange, because I really did not know how to play the game.  I treated it like a Sit n' Go.  I got lucky and then started beating on everybody, raising and raising.  It was just pure aggression....This time I felt like I knew what I was doing.  This was really enjoyable.  I always wanted a No-Limit gold bracelet, but I never thought it would be in a Shootout.  I took second three times on Day 1 in previous shootouts (years before).  I was not looking forward to this event.  It's very frustrating to play seven hours and then come in second and get nothing for it.

WSOP:  Talk more about the Shootout format.
 
Josephy:  This is tough because you are only playing against winners.  Everyone after the first day is a winner, I mean they have won their table.  So, this wasn't an easy ride.  It was a tough road.

WSOP:  Do you come out to the WSOP each year with the intention of winning a gold bracelet?
 
Josephy:  I come out and try and do my best.  I do not count gold bracelets.  I am very happy to have gotten this, which proves to myself I can play this.

WSOP:  You were also known for your success as an online poker player.  How have developments in recent years changed your activities as a poker pro?
 
Josephy:  It was rough.  I used to really enjoy playing online.  I would go out and rush to get back home....I'd run to my computer and make sure I registered on time.  I would miss meals.  It's really not the way someone in his 40's should be living, but I loved it so much, it's what I wanted to do.  So when the changes took place, I didn't miss it right way.   I was able to do other things and spend more time with my family, especially on Sundays (when the big online tournaments take place).  However, I started getting the bug again seeing all the big tournaments that were happening.  I still have not played a hand of online poker since then.